A list of what makes an experience satisfying — and the surprising place money holds on that list

According to happiness research, choosing feels better than almost anything. 

This was shown recently by researcher Kennon Sheldon, Ph.D., of the University of Missouri. Dr. Sheldon conducted three large studies aimed at finding out what brings people the greatest satisfaction.

In the book What Happy People Know, Dan Baker, Ph.D. and Cameron Stauth detail the results of these studies, where individuals were asked about their most satisfying recent experiences  and specifically to decipher what it was about those experiences that made them so gratifying.

The results were a stunning confirmation of self-determination theory. The main thing that made the events feel good was the sense of being in charge of them. 

This sense of being in charge included experiencing feelings of autonomy, competence, and self-esteem. 

. . . . . 

Here’s the complete list of what makes events satisfying. 

1. Autonomy; self-esteem; relatedness (three-way tie) 

2. Competence 

3. Pleasure 

4. Self-actualization; physical thriving (tie) 

5. Security 

6. Popularity; influence (tie) 

7. Money

It’s revelatory, isn’t it, that what brings us the greatest satisfaction are the holy triumvirate of personal choice (autonomy), self-regard and relationships.

Equally revealing is this: That three elements we often strive for most  status, power and wealth  are at the bottom of what makes for rewarding experience.

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